Tag Archives: keywords

PokeGo

Pokémon Go – Why the Hit App Needs ASO

Pokémon Go – It seems like all anyone can talk about lately. And why not? It became the top grossing app in the US within 13 hours, raising Nintendo’s market value by $9 billion in five days. 21 million users play the game daily. Between four and five million more download it each day. And with well over $1 million daily setting the app above competitors like Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, it seems like The Pokémon Company and Niantic are on top of the world.

It might come as a shock, then, that Pokémon Go is in desperate need of ASO.

Beneath the sheen of the Pokémon brand, surprisingly little has been done to market Pokémon Go to mobile users. And while brand recognition and online chatter have contributed significantly to make the app number one on the charts, those factors can only take a game so far. As of now, when the social media masses move on to the next big craze, Pokémon Go won’t have a leg to stand on.

Let’s start with the app’s most crippling weakness – its keyword rankings. As expected, Pokémon Go ranks for multiple Pokémon-related terms, such as “pokémon games free” and “pokémon RPG”.

However, many of these rankings fall well below what you might expect. For instance, as of this writing the app is only rank 8 for “pokémon games free” and a whopping rank 600 for “pokémon RPG”, a shocking figure given that Pokémon Go is, for all intents and purposes, the biggest Pokémon role-playing game of all time.

The rankings only get worse from there. A series of surprising oversights means that users who may connect with Pokémon Go will likely never find it through search. For example, the app does not rank at all for Nintendo, a brand closely associated with the Pokémon legacy. Similarly, the app doesn’t register for its world-famous mascot, Pikachu. Nor does it rank for other famous creatures like Mew, Mewtwo, Squirtle, Charmander or Bulbasaur.

Even generic phrases are missing from Pokémon Go’s keyword rankings. Core words and phrases that are extremely relevant and could help the app grow by leaps and bounds are outright missing, such as:

  • Collect
  • Catch
  • Raise
  • Breed
  • Trade
  • Dragon/s

The list goes on and on. Just take a look at the snippet of Pokémon Go’s ranking report below.

Datacube Pokemon Go Rankings 5

As you can see, the app ranks well for some generic terms like “mobile games”, but lacks rankings for crucial relevant terms that could help more users find the app organically. Just look at how mixed the app’s ratings for Pokémon-related terms are, with most Pokémon rankings falling in the high hundreds or worse.

It’s not just the app’s metadata that’s suffering, either; Pokémon Go’s store page is surprisingly lacking, too.

For starters, the app is completely lacking a preview video. Thousands of users have taken to the Reviews section to complain about a lack of clarity in Pokémon’s features, and the absence of a preview video only compounds confusion around the game’s feature set.

Without a preview video, the task of convincing a user falls to the app’s screenshots. The first screenshot is simply a digital Charmander standing against a barren street corner. There are no feature callouts, no explanatory text to guide users, just a barren and boring image.

The same can be said for each of the following screenshots. Each image is simply a capture from the game, with little to nothing to offer context to the user about what they are seeing. There’s even a low battery shown atop several of the screenshots, highlighting a common complaint from users that the app drains battery too quickly. Next to the battery percentage a charging symbol can be seen, giving the impression that the developers were rushed in creating the screenshots and didn’t have the time to take captures at full battery or edit the images before they were uploaded.

With the massive success of Pokémon Go, it can be easy to overlook just how many ASO best practices the app completely ignores. While the brand’s worldwide recognition has already been enough to launch the app to massive success, once the fires die down on social media, Niantic and The Pokémon Company will need to make sweeping changes to their App Store presence in order to keep their spot at the top.

Mobile App Naming Examples

Mobile App Naming Examples

Shakespeare once inquired: “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

When it comes to mobile apps, however, names matter a great deal.

There are many factors that impact app store rankings and user installs – from how the app is indexed to which searches Apple and Google deam an app a relevant result, and then conversion of search result views into installs and users.

An app’s name impacts all of these factors and often serves as the anchor for the rest of an optimized app store listing.

Looking at the top apps in the store, not only overall but by category or niche and a few trends for naming appear:

  • the stronger the brand, the less emphasis put on using target search phrases (keywords) in the app name/title

instagram-app-name

  • many top apps include a very specific search phrase as the tagline

hotels-app-naming

letgo

Where You Want to Be

Ultimately, you want to be in a space that is automatically self-descriptive with your audience and needs no further expansion or explanation.

Facebook or Starbucks would be good examples of this state of wide public awareness. There may well have been a time when it was necessary to explain that Starbucks sold coffee, but it is no longer the case. People hear “Starbucks” and they are fully aware of all the necessary connotations. The brand has victoriously engulfed the product it represents.

Lofty goal right?  A growing trend in the SEO space is to create your own keywords and then own them.

Starbucks and Facebook are ubiquitous, but your app only needs to carve out a space in the niche you are targeting.

Consider EasyUp.  Easy to remember, easy to tell a friend, easy to spell, and broadly describes the function – without requiring searching for “upload images from camera roll to snapchat”.

EasyUpload

How Your App Marketing Strategy Gets You There

Some app marketers are clearly working to establish iconic status for their clients, so that they can gain the coveted position of being simply a name.

Others are supporting a brand with a tagline that helps them to be discovered in search – which we strongly recommend!

Looking at some recently touted music apps by way of example, TIDAL has elected to go with a strictly branded approach as its format.

Tidal

While competitors such as Spotify and Pandora have both chosen to more-directly categorize themselves by making sure that the customer knows these are music apps.

What TIDAL may gain in having a ultra-simple app name, they lose loads of potential organic traffic that instead is split among the music app optimized for music-related search.

Not All Apps are Marketed Equally

While music app marketers have a wholesale product to sell—music created by all sorts of other people—game developers have a retail product of their own creation to bring to market.

This results in campaigns that are designed to make a more specific pitch to the public.

Mobile games like Boom Beach or Mobile Strike are almost completely self-descriptive in a way that serves as an overt campaign for its potential audience.

The intent here is not to establish the creator/publisher as a brand but for the creation to be able to stand on its own.

It is highly likely that most players of the various mobile game apps are rather unfamiliar with the entities which created those games.

Compare that approach with King – the makers of the Candy Crush series of apps.  Candy Crush achieved iconic status, and the creators quickly sprung into action to offer a series of follow-up apps that are tightly bound to the original tentpole entry.

Everyone Can Play the Game

Of course, imitation has always been part of the marketing world.

Not only does an Angry Birds spawn Angrier Birds, but it also midwives a host of emulators that will take every possible detour off the now-established brand name.

An app that aims to confuse or misrepresent itself using another’s brand name will get denied and may even impact the publisher account – but apps that supplement or complement other popular services would do well to mention them by name in the app name/title.

In summary, there are basically three common approaches to naming an app:

  • Establish an iconic identity that supersedes the actual product on offer.
  • Buttress an intended iconic identity with succinct descriptive commentary.
  • Play off of another iconic identity in hopes of capitalizing upon the reflected glow of success.

When considering app store optimization, the second and third options have the biggest impact on indexing and ranking, but it can be helpful to step back and see what other apps are doing with success in the app stores.

What Every Android App Creator Should Know About Google Play Keywords And ASO

What Every Android App Creator Should Know About Google Play Keywords And ASO

Using the right app optimization techniques can mean the difference between a highly successful app and one that is only moderately successful at best.

Following are some important tips that can help a marketer promote his or her app in the most effective manner.

Choose the Right Google Play Keywords

Because Google Play limits the number of characters that can be used in the title, short description and long description, it is imperative to choose the right keywords.

In a perfect world, a good keyword would get a lot of app store search volume but not have a lot of competition.  But the keywords that make up your app listing don’t exist in vacuum.

Relevance, how a specific word fits into the keyword matrix, and the value of the traffic as measured by intent or lifetime value all impact the value of a keyword.

It is also extremely important to ensure that any keywords evaluated are highly related to the app’s content.

If the keyword is not related to what the app has to offer, this can result in poor conversion rates, low app usage and a high number of uninstalls, all of which are sure to damage your long-term Google Play ranking.

In Google’s developer center, they specifically state that the best practices of SEO apply in creating a good app listing for Google Play. What they don’t say is that even if Google indexes the app listing content similar to a website – the search traffic you are attempting to optimize for is not web search traffic but Google Play search traffic.

Further, while app indexing shows some promise for a deeper lever of indexing, websites have more than one page that is evaluated in search.  In Google Play, your app listing serves the same purpose in ASO as an entire website does for SEO!

How, When and How Often Keywords Should be Used

If possible, the main keyword being targeted should be used as part of the app’s title.

The general rule for Google Play ASO is the more constrained the field, the more weight given in indexation.  The app name field is limited to 30 characters – so words used carry the greatest weight compared to the short and full descriptions.

Using feature or function based phrases is a proven approach as a majority of app store search is for specific features.

That said, the goal of selecting keywords for your app listing is not to rank higher, but to acquire more high LTV users.

Finding features-based phrases that have a strong potential to convert viewers into users will ultimately help your app store rankings while bringing in more valuable users.

In practice, this means when drafting the content of your full description – avoid writing as if for a search engine.

Overusing the keyword does not increase search engine benefits and is likely to even be counterproductive if the description sounds like it was written for a search engine rather than a human.

Links

Google Play app pages, much like websites, need inbound links in order to reach a larger audience.

Note:  This is unique to Google Play as Apple does not currently include “social signals” in their app store ranking algorithm.

 

Links to your Google Play app page should be built naturally and ideally come from a wide range of websites.

Developing channels outside of the app stores - from corporate websites to social media sites and on YouTube (by uploading the promotional video mentioned earlier) can really pay off in better rankings on Google Play.

Building user acquisition channels, finding the right mix of keywords and phrases, using the best converting phrases in the app name – all of this takes time.

With user acquisition costs above $2 per install, an optimized app listing and app store funnel can create a defendable,  long-term asset.

Choosing App Store Keywords

Choosing App Store Keywords

Choosing app store keywords for an app’s store listings has at times been viewed as the holy grail of app store optimization.

The thinking was that finding the magical combination of low competition, high traffic words would drive heaps of organic traffic to even the worst of mobile apps.

While keywords are a big part of ASO, Gummicube considers the initial selection of keywords as much less important than the building of a complete acquisition funnel, and the ongoing optimization of target keywords and phrases as they support the funnel.

The goal of app store optimization is not (only) greater visibility, but the organic acquisition of new users.  

Aim for Relevant Coverage

By changing the key performance indicator of successful ASO from “rankings” to “high LTV users acquired”,  the role keyword selection plays in the ASO process becomes clearer (and is often missed by app marketers).

We don’t want traffic, we want traffic that is likely to convert to downloads and users.

App marketers should aim for relevant coverage of keywords and phrases.

The app store algorithms are getting smarter.  Low conversions relative to position in a search result signals to Apple and Google that users are not finding your app relevant for that specific search.

The fields that have the biggest impact on search rankings are limited – with character limits on the app name/title, the keywords field (Apple) and the short description (Google Play).

Why use that valuable space targeting keywords and phrases that are not ultra-relevant to your app and prospective user?

Use App Store Data

There is and has been a lack of transparency in the app store search algorithms.  Reverse engineering the algorithms  is made harder due to a complete lack of details on app store search data.

Neither Apple or Google share search traffic or download data by category, phrase or even daily volume.

To fill the void for marketers, several companies built ASO tools using Google web search data as a proxy for app store search data.

The thinking was “something is better than nothing”.

Many optimization efforts based on web data didn’t produce results.

Meanwhile, investments in collecting proprietary app store data and working with large clients and their global app portfolios started to show the differences between how users search the app stores vs how they search the web.

Don’t take my word for it – search for “malls” on the web and then again in Google Play.  Both are using Google search, but one returns the local malls in a map, maybe a definition or items in the news, and the other returns mall-based games and shopping companions.

User intent is just different when searching the app stores.  Using web search data to optimize an app store listing doesn’t make sense.

Investing in app store optimization is the foundation of mobile app marketing, and provides a measurable long-term ROI.

Partner with an app store intelligence service like Gummicube to identify how your target market is searching the app stores, and create a plan for an optimized listing.

Build Phrases

In tracking the app stores for over 5 years, we have found 80% of app store searches are for  multi-word, features-based phrases.

That’s “cheap flights” or “zombie rpg game” or “free photo editing”.

The phrases you identify as being used by your target market when searching the app stores are likely made up of several, recurring words.

Breaking these phrases into individual words, and removing duplicates – you are left with a sort of “keywords bucket”.

If there were no constraints on the app store listing fields that impact how an app is indexed, we would be done. Just dump all of those keywords into the name and keywords field or short description.

But there are constraints (which is a good thing!).

Character limits help Apple and Google determine what is most important or relevant to the app from the publisher’s perspective.

Working with roughly 100-180 characters to build the optimal mix of words of various lengths targeting phrases of varying relevance and value is complicated.

Software that incorporates app store data can help you pick the optimal mix of words based on target phrases, category and app store competition.

Competing Apps

Speaking of which, what if the phrases we are targeting has 100’s of competitors also vying for ranking in search?

There are so many variables that determine the strength of the competition that the number (quantity) of competitors is almost meaningless.

Simply, not all competition is equal.

Relevance matters. Ratings, reviews, time since last update, downloads and conversion rates all impact how strong each competitor is for a specific search term.

The best approach given how hard it can be to evaluate competition in the app store is start with a keyword bucket that builds phrases extremely relevant to your app and its best or primary features. Adjust and optimize for those words and phrases that your app ranks well for and continue to build on your strengths.

App store optimization, and especially selecting app store keywords and phrases, requires an on-going investment in making small adjustments and improvements that grow to big results.

A word of caution:

Targeting keywords that are trademarked (Disney, MLB, Superman) will get your app rejected, removed from the store or at best have the keywords removed.

Similarly, including words in an app name/title, keywords field or description that is unrelated will also put your app at risk of rejection, removal or flagged for keyword spamming.

Learn more about selecting keywords and app store optimization.

8 ASO Tools to Help You Promote Your App

8 ASO Tools to Help You Promote Your App

Acquiring users for your mobile app organically starts with being ranked in the app stores for relevant search terms.

Rankings are established by the app store listing, as well as by several app performance metrics.

For example, an app listing that is optimized for travel deals might have great search term coverage, but the icon and screenshots are bad or confusing leading to low conversions. Of these low conversions, users don’t rate or review the app, or open it once and forget about it or delete it. Not good for rankings.

Organic users are acquired in the app stores by addressing the following:

    • app store visibility
    • conversion from app store view to install
    • engagement and retention
    • ratings and reviews

Let’s take a look at 8 ASO tools that help us address each of these areas.

App Store Visibility

All of the elements for ranking in the app stores and acquiring users work together, but app store visibly starts with app listing metadata and the words and phrases that are targeted.

Relevance is better than a “wide net”, modifiers can be helpful (free, new) but the key is tapping into and understanding how your target market is searching the app store for your app.

The two main tools for understanding how your target market searches for your app or similar apps are app store intelligence software like Datacube from Gummicube and focus groups.

Datacube is the software we use to collect and analyze proprietary app store data, and build app store optimization plans for our clients.

Datacube-example

The main thing to look for when evaluating app store intelligence software or services is where the data comes from.  Many tools use Google’s web search API as a proxy for app store search.  The way people search the web is very different than how they search the app stores – so use a tool that is built on actual app store data like Datacube from Gummicube.

Focus groups are a tool that provides very specific feedback from a defined, target audience as to how they would search for an app given a set of features or benefits.  

Using a focus group at the start of an optimization campaign to uncover terms and phrases used by your target audience can pay dividends in relevant search term coverage that your competitors are missing.

App Store Conversion

Your app has good, relevant search coverage but if it doesn’t convert at a rate expected for its ranking – your app’s ranking for that specific term will drop.

Alternatively, if your app converts better than expected given the ranking – it signals to the app stores that searchers find your app as a relevant and attractive result for that term- lifting your app up the results list

Design elements make up most of an app listing in search results. The icon and screenshots and even order of the screenshots have shown to have a huge impact on conversion rates.

apple-app-search-results

For that reason, the tools we recommend for maximizing app conversion rates are focused on getting qualitative and quantitative feedback on the app listing’s graphics.

A/B Testing or multivariate testing of icons and screenshots is only supported in Google Play - but can be used to influence decisions across your app store listings.

Different designs, screenshot order, icons and videos can be tested on a portion of live traffic by geo, until a statistically significant winner is reached.  Even improvements on conversions of only 5% a month can lead to an almost doubling of installs after 12 months.

Focus groups provide data that no amount of multivariate (or A/B testing) can – and that’s qualitative feedback.  Test a wide range of icon and screenshot ideas with a focus group and you will learn not only which icons or screenshots converted best, resonated best or were prefered, but also why.

When first marketing an app, and before publishing in the app stores, learning from your target audience what they think about a design or their impressions beyond just the data provides insights and a direction that can then be tested on live app store traffic.

Engagement and Retention

There are several ways to measure engagement and retention. Number of sessions, session length, do users keep the app installed etc..

The primary focus of optimizing engagement and retention should be on maximizing lifetime value (LTV) however you decide to measure that.  An increase in any of the above metrics will likely help your app store ranking.

Two of the best tools outside of app design, gamification and other elements of the app itself are notifications and deep linking or app indexing.

Notifications are sometimes referred to as push or local, depending on where the notification is triggered – but the impact is largely the same.  Apps like Farmville and Candy Crush set the standard with notifications triggered by the end of a loop (the carrots are ready to be picked) or when you had “earned” new lives to continue playing.

Opened at a rate more than twice that of emails, notifications are a great tool for reminding users to come back to your app, in a short format they can immediately take action on or ignore.

App indexing and deep linking are closely related but the most relevant for this post is the indexing on in-app content for web search, Google Now and Apple Spotlight search.

App indexing allows app publishers to both tag web content that also is available in their mobile app, and add metadata to in-app content for visibility in Google Now and Spotlight.

A simple example is your recipe app has been installed, a user then uses Spotlight/Google Now/ Safari/Google for a taco recipe, your taco recipe is at the top of the list with a “link” directly to the content within your app.

Ratings and Reviews

The process for acquiring ratings and users from users is not great. App publishers cannot incentivize reviews in any way, and any request for a review means taking a user away from your app into the app store.

A report from Soomla showed across apps they tracked, the review rate for apps was consistent across geos – and it was consistently terrible – with roughly .5% of users globally taking the time to rate or review an app.

A general rule of thumb has traditionally been 1 in 1000 – so I guess things are looking up?

Hopefully Apple and Google will continue to put a greater emphasis on the actions users take (engagement and retention above) with apps vs some very small percent who take the time to submit a review.

That said, there are a few tools to help app publishers minimize bad reviews and prompt users to take the time to rate and review.

Apptentive is a complete in-app feedback system, with a primary feature being user rating and review prompts.  One of the best ways to acquire user ratings is 1) to ask for them 2) at the right time 3) and funnel customer service issues away from the app store review system and to your service team.

Source: Apptentive
Source: Apptentive

 

Crashlytics is a crash and bug reporting tool acquired by Twitter and integrated into their Fabric app development suite.   The best way to avoid bad reviews is to have app that doesn’t crash!


There you have it, 8 tools to help with your app store optimization and mobile app promotion.

The on-going use of these tools to impact visibility, conversion, retention and ratings will have a positive impact on rankings and ultimately on installs and organically acquired users.